A new year is often seen as a time for reflection and new beginnings. As we start to think about the many things we need or could be doing to improve our every day life, I would like to propose twenty-two suggestions of ways to adopt mindful thinking into your routine.
- Consider sewing, repairing or getting second-hand
Now with Christmas sales on, it is very tempting to replace something rather dear or useful that is now considered too old. Perhaps, however, there is still opportunity to salvage it.
- If not, consider donations
Rather than throwing everything in a big black bag, why not try giving some of your things another chance by donating them to a charity shop instead? Many possibilities can become available when there is opportunity for them.
- Look out for environment-friendly apps
The battle against waste is becoming so predominant in everyday thinking that apps such as the two below are now growingly popular!
- On the donation topic, Olio allows anyone to share something they no longer need, inviting the possibility of someone sharing interest. The interested party can then schedule a pickup, free of charge. The app recently updated and now extends to Free, Borrow, Made and Wanted sections, for food and non-food items.
- Fighting food waste, Too Good To Go is an app where shops subscribe to make their leftovers available to the public under as little as £3-£5! The app has grown in popularity and is now used by common shops like Soho, Pret a Manger, Greggs and supermarkets. Customers can buy a ‘magic bag’ in the app by registering their payment and are identified by a randomised code. The contents of a magic bag are a surprise, as it depends on the sales that day.
- Recycle small everyday items
Do you wear contact lenses? Do you use pods in your coffee machine? Do you use memo cards for to-do notes? Do you recycle these? Try having a designated area to throw these in, rather than a general bin. This way, you can recycle all these without much time or effort put into it. Consider having a decorated small pot or bowl where you can place these, and once full that can be emptied into your recycling bin.
- Look out for biodegradable
Consider switching some of your tea bags to biodegradable options, or using biodegradable bin bags for the room, bathroom or your pet’s needs.
- Consider adopting online note-taking
As part of the new year, calendars and agendas are a new fashion. I am also guilty of that. However, notebooks do occupy space, both at home and in our bags. Consider adopting an online platform for your routine and calendar, that way you can take your reminders anywhere with you without much effort.
- Consider digitalising your photos and documents
Now, with cloud systems like OneDrive, iCloud and Google Drive, it is much easier and clutter-free to keep documents – and photos – together online. Photo albums are a beautiful and sacred thing to have and share, even today. However, sadly, these take an incredible amount of space and also pose a risk as to losing single-copies.
- Consider long-term investments
It is easy to get tempted by affordable and even cheap items, without accounting for how they are going to fit into your life or how long they will last. Instead, try to invest your money – and your time – in long-term use. For example, when buying someone a present, consider how well you know they need and desire that item. In many instances, unexpected presents are donated or become clutter. Instead, consider gifting a gesture or perhaps a gift card.
- Look out for more eco alternatives
Energy bills are due to increase, and winter makes it harder to avoid it. However, there may be alternatives to be investigated that could help improve your living. Solar panels are well known by now, but how about smart meters? These replace both existing electricity and gas meters and send regular readings to your suppliers, and show your energy use in real time, creating a more accurate overview of your bills and providing an incentive to turn off unneeded use!
- Turn off your wall plugs when not in use
If you are leaving the house or simply not using the oven at the moment, how about turn the power off? These little actions do not really hurt your everyday routine and instead save on your energy use.
- Fill the kettle only enough for that cuppa
Did you know that a lot of energy is used to boil a full kettle, as the heat needs to work through all that weight of water? That energy level is also doomed to increase if limescale increases inside the kettle. According to The Guardian, the energy consumption by incorrectly filling a kettle can even cost more in energy bills than using the hob or the oven.
- Mind your laundry
We probably heard before about how much water goes into a laundry cycle, and also about how we should stick to our holiday towels for at least a week before asking room service. But how do we behave at home? Certainly there are the colours and the whites wash, which makes two cycles, then bedding, then housekeeping with clothes and towels. There are many ways in which to save energy when doing laundry, for one, use lower temperatures to reduce energy usage. Also, consider letting your laundry dry naturally – helps with folding!
- Make the best of daylight
Alright, granted that during winter there are not many bright days. Though, there may be that odd one day when daylight breaks through the window and reduces the need to light all bulbs in the house. Enjoy those. Soon, as we enter warmer seasons, fingers crossed that this resolution will be more consistent.
- Be creative in your workout
Now that Christmas has passed and the new year is here, many of us are looking to get back in shape and also work towards our mental and physical health. Although that is a perfectly good plan, gym workout demands energy use and hardly any reflection. Rather, consider a long walk or a hike. We are privileged here in Gloucestershire to have the Cotswolds not so far from us, and plenty of hills to climb in Cheltenham. These, alongside lighter exercises such as yoga and pilates are great ways to regain touch with your body and mind.
- Choose reusable products
The reusable market has been growing from a few years, with reusable nappies, tissues, beverage bottles, cutlery and straws, and storage/shopping bags. There are now numerous ways of saving on expenses and helping the planet by buying something once and keeping on using that with good quality.
- Stick to one or two bottles
In 2020, Statista recorded that approximately 2.54 billion litres of bottled water were consumed in the UK alone. We are long due to stop buying supermarket bottled water. As we invest in reusable bottles, hopefully there is reduction of the cycle of buying and disposing plastic water bottles. To help with that, a new app called Refill invites individuals to find venues where they can refill their water bottles with tap water free of change.
- Clean, reuse and decorate
A while back, one of my housemates would clean, decorate and reuse olives, pickles or sauce jars to put sugar, pasta, or nuts. These choices are not only limited to food storage, but these could also be crafted into candle glass, pen holders, spare change and any other ideas.
- Buy local and refills
Have you explored your local market or a refill shop? Why not make use of reusable containers to buy plastic-free or help the local economy thrive? On that note, visit our Global Footsteps’ building where FoodLoose is based, and find sustainable options such as pasta, rice, nuts, chocolate, as well as home and personal care.
- Create an edible garden
There is something therapeutical about doing something hands-on, and gardening is one of the greatest pleasures in the UK. Although not everyone has a personal garden, there are ways to plant something beautiful – and maybe useful. Consider decorating your window sill with a basil or parsley plant, or sharing an apple tree with the neighbour. A friend recently decided to use wooden pallets to create a pallet herb garden, an amazing idea to accumulate possibilities! The Royal Horticultural Society has created a free portal for those keen to learn more about plants and gardening.
- Attract some bees into your life
There is a lot of fear over the health and safety of bees, as climate change and habitat loss continues, bees have been a subject of consideration for environmental communities. Bumblebees, specifically, help with the polarization and fertilisation of wild flora and plantations. This year, why not plant some bee-friendly wild flowers?
- Reconsider your car
For those who drive to work, or their kids to school, not having a car would be impractical. However, as remote working becomes more normalised, this need may start to become a consideration. Yet, for those who do not commute too often, perhaps reconsidering their need to own a car may be applicable. A car has very high and consistent costs, varying from tax, insurance, repairs, parking and fuel, as well as being polluting. Instead, consider using public transport or a bicycle, and perhaps renting – or sharing – a car, rather than owning one.
- Be curious about the environment
Read. Talk to others. Join charitable causes, or organisations. Donate money or your time. Participate in groups. Start new activities. Observe nature around you. Recycle. Choose fresh food. Subscribe to information. Invite change. Improve.
2022 is now here, full of possibilities. Change is always coming, consistently happening, even if slowly, and we now have new opportunities to engage and apply these to our own lives as we become more aware. We hold responsibilities, within ourselves, our families and our communities. Above that, we hold the inspiring fact that we are always growing and developing as individuals, and therefore we also are a greater part of that change.